Mercy mission

Members of the  "Never Give Up"  group at Arnold School, Blackpool, at their Japan Tsunami fundraising day. From left, Junko Mori, Rie Sakamoto, Miiko Cox (8), Yasuyo Cooper and Maki Kondo.
Members of the "Never Give Up" group at Arnold School, Blackpool, at their Japan Tsunami fundraising day. From left, Junko Mori, Rie Sakamoto, Miiko Cox (8), Yasuyo Cooper and Maki Kondo.
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WHEN a group of Japanese women, living on the Fylde coast, heard about the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami which hit their homeland in March, they decided they had to do something.

They were left shocked when they spoke to friends and family and heard of the total devastation caused by the disaster, which wiped out a once-thriving coastal town of 17,000 people.

The women decided to arrange a series of special events to raise funds to help those in dire need in Japan.

And they have managed to get together a grand total of £4,756.

The Never Give Up project will hand the money – raised through a series of events, culminating in a family fun day at Arnold School – over to the Japan Tsunami Appeal, organised by the Red Cross.

Junko Mori, one of the organisers, who lives in St Annes, said she could not stand by in the aftermath of such a terrible event.

She said: “When the earthquake happened, we felt we had to do something to try to help.

“Rather than just watch the constant media coverage of my country being torn apart and feel helpless, I wanted to take positive action to help the hundreds of thousands of people in need.”

The 42-year-old was born and grew up in Japan, and moved to the Fylde coast during her 20s.

She said: “I still have my family and a lot of friends back in Japan. A lot of my friends live in Tokyo, near to the nuclear power stations, which is a big worry.

“My friends and family are okay, but there are still worries and concerns, especially over the power stations.

“So a group of local Japanese women got together and decided to organise an event to give money to the British Red Cross to help all the victims out there.

“We have been working with Fylde Borough Council, Fairhaven Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church to hold fun days and other fundraising events.

“The most recent was at Arnold School, which had face-painting, shiatsu massage, workshops in origami and calligraphy and Ninjitsu demonstrations.

“So many local organisations helped us and generously donated prizes and we are really grateful to them all, including Arnold School, Rossall School, St Thomas Nursery, St Annes, and Print Plus.

“What started as a simple event to sell a few cakes, just grew and grew enormously.”

And former Arnold School pupil, Rachel Wilson, who was in Fukushima teaching English when the earthquake struck, has also been helping the fundraising efforts.

She said: “After being in Fukushima when the disaster hit, and dealing with the situation there in the days following, I decided it was no longer safe to stay and returned to the UK. “Water and power were intermittent in my town, gas was unavailable and food was rationed.

“I lived around 60km from Daichi nuclear plant, which was at that time within the UK’s recommended exclusion zone.

“It was a difficult decision for me. I was, and still am, sad to leave my life there and my Japanese friends behind. When I heard about the events organised by the Never Give Up team, I felt compelled to help.

“Many of the Japanese people involved didn’t know each other prior to this, and I found it heart-warming to see how so many people had come together as a result of the crisis. I know the money raised will be invaluable in the relief efforts in Japan and will certainly help people there to rebuild their lives.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the Never Give Up appeal, can email junks00m@yahoo.co.uk.